Saturday, August 29, 2015

Albany State Season Review: Season of Change

ALBANY, Georgia  — Dan Land still has his trademark smile.

He’s still the same approachable coach who is easy to talk to, and his players love him.
About the only thing different about Land this year is he’s the head football coach at Albany State instead of an assistant. Land took over, getting promoted to be the interim coach when longtime Albany State coach Mike White unexpectedly took the same job at SIAC rival Benedict at the end of the 2014 season.
Land vows that not much is going to change when the Rams open their 2015 season by playing host to Valdosta State Saturday night.
“We’re not trying to recreate the wheel here,” Land said. “All we did was took exactly what we had, that we know we’re good at, and just change some things that would best benefit us on defense and on offense. Normally on offense, we would do more offensive sets and on defense, what we’re doing now is more zone defense…making the quarterback read more.”

Fort Valley State shooting for conference championship

FORT VALLEY, Georgia -- With two games remaining last season, Fort Valley State had its sights set on an SIAC championship. In good shape at 6-2, the Wildcats traveled to Atlanta to face Morehouse, but despite a near-miracle comeback, FVSU fell 24-21 to the Maroon Tigers.

“That just put a damper on everything,” FVSU head coach Donald Pittman said. “We lost motivation. The next game against Albany State, we always get up for that game; if we would have won, we would have had something to play for. But we did not win against Morehouse, so we weren’t playing for the conference championship. Dropping those two really dampered the whole season, really.”

FVSU finished the season with a 6-4 record. Boasting five players who earned preseason All-SIAC honors, the Wildcats expect more this year. As voted on by the conference’s head coaches, the preseason All-conference team features wide receiver Drelon Freeman, defensive back Brian Walker and place-kicker/punter Juan Serna on the first team, along with quarterback Otis Brown, who earned the recognition as a running back, and offensive lineman Michael Brown on the second team.


Terry Sims takes over Bethune-Cookman, says program won’t miss a beat

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida -- The coach has changed but the philosophies and schemes remain the same at Bethune-Cookman.

Brian Jenkins went 46-14 in five seasons with the Wildcats, losing just six Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference games, before moving on to Alabama State. Bethune administrators selected one of Jenkins’ longtime assistants, Terry Sims, to take over the program.

The 43-year-old Sims is a head coach for the first time, but he has been the Wildcats’ assistant head coach, working with defensive backs and the special teams units since 2010.

“Everything is the same,” Sims said. “It was a group of men that got together and came up with a blueprint for this program. The majority of those men are still here. We’re still operating the program that has been in place.”


Rutgers Week 1 opponent: Norfolk State at a glance

PISCATAWAY, New Jersey -- One week from today, Rutgers will open its 2015 campaign. For the first time in the Kyle Flood era, the Scarlet Knights have the luxury of beginning their season at home versus a team from the Division I-AA ranks.

With training camp coming to a close Friday, the Scarlet Knights will begin game-week preparations Monday. Kickoff for the opener next Saturday is slated for 12 noon at High Point Solutions Stadium.

Here are some things to know about the Norfolk State Spartans:


2015 preview: SWAC at a glance

Coach with the toughest job

Rick Comegy, Mississippi Valley State: No coach has really been able to figure out how to succeed consistently at Mississippi Valley State since Archie Cooley led the program to three consecutive winning seasons in the early-to-mid 1980s.

Newcomers to watch

Guy Stallworth, Grambling, DB: The 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior college transfer will aim to help a pass defense that ranked last in the 10-team SWAC last season.

Derrick Griffin, Texas Southern, WR: Griffin was one of the top receiver prospects in the country coming out of high school in 2013. He signed with Miami, but didn’t qualify. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound Griffin should be a matchup nightmare for the rest of the SWAC.

Toughest schedule


TSU Tigers Football Head Coach Rod Reed talks about the final scrimmage before the Sept. 6 opener

NASHVILLE, Tennessee  -- TSU Tigers Football Head Coach Rod Reed talks about the final scrimmage before the Sept. 6 opener in the John Merritt Classic vs. Alabama State.


Former SC State Hall of Famer Bobby Hemby Passes

Robert M. (Bobby) Hemby Sr.
Courtesy: SCSU Athletics
ORANGEBURG, South Carolina  --  Robert M. (Bobby) Hemby Sr., a standout football player at South Carolina State during his collegiate days (1968-72), and an SCSU Hall of Fame inductee, died Thursday, August 27, 2015 at the MUSC Medical Center in Charleston following a brief illness. A lifelong educator, Hemby was 65.

The funeral will be held Thursday (Sept. 3) at 1 p.m. at New Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1785 Amelia Street, Orangeburg. Carroll Mortuary of Bamberg, SC is in charge of arrangements. Friends may call at the residence, 392 Woodberry Drive, Orangeburg, or the funeral home.

A Brooklyn, NY native, Hemby lettered four years as a defensive back at SC State. He intercepted 16 passes, including three in one half against Morgan State in 1971, during his Bulldog career. He played in the inaugural Black College East/West All-Star Game where he had one interception as a senior, and later signed a free agent contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1972. Hemby was inducted into the SCSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010.

Hemby earned both a bachelor's and a master's at SC State, where his three sons also played football. Robert II, played quarterback and defensive back for the Bulldogs; Ryan played defensive back; and Russell, quarterback and defensive back. His widow, Grace Hemby, and daughter Robyn Hemby, are also SC State graduates.

In addition to the family members mentioned above, Hemby is survived by his mother, Mattie Johnson and a sister, Patricia Means, both of Syringa, Virginia.